Mar 20, 2022 - World

Some Chernobyl workers allowed to leave after 600 hours inside plant

An overview and close-up view of Chernobyl nuclear facilities captured by satellite imagery

A satellite image of Chernobyl nuclear facilities on March 10. Photo: Maxar Technologies.

About half of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers who've effectively been held hostage since Russian troops seized the facility more than three weeks ago have finally been able to leave, Ukrainian officials said Sunday.

The big picture: 64 workers left after being inside the facility for some 600 hours, according to a statement from the plant. They were replaced by 46 "employee-volunteers," the statement added.

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Ukrainian officials told the United Nations nuclear watchdog that the "rotation of on-site personnel had begun in the morning and that those who had left had already been replaced by other Ukrainian staff."

What they're saying: IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that it was "a positive — albeit long overdue — development" that some Chernobyl staff had returned to their families.

  • "They deserve our full respect and admiration for having worked in these extremely difficult circumstances," Grossi added.
  • "They were there for far too long. I sincerely hope that remaining staff from this shift can also rotate soon."

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